MediVoice: Helllooooo fam. Today’s interview is a special one because I have here with me the one who was in charge of the previous administration, the one who organised the biggest health week so far in the history of IFUMSA. Join me to welcome no other but our very own Capacity president. Did I just hear an ovation? I wish it could be transcribed (laughs). So, can you briefly introduce yourself to us?
POTW: Alright, my name is Beloved Akinola, a final year or rather a soon-to-be doctor because we have a new final year class.
MediVoice: Omo!! My respect for you, sir. It has really been a long ride and probably a tough one at that. You being here, it’s sha a light at the end of a tunnel for me, an assurance that this med school journey would one day come to an end. (Chuckles). So, where do you hail from?
POTW: I hail from the ancient city of Ibadan.
MediVoice: Okay. Was your running for the presidency a spur of the moment, or you had a motivation?
POTW: I’d say it was never my intent at the beginning. My first exposure to service and leadership in IFUMSA was when I served as the Assistant General Secretary under President Dada Ayodele. It was then I decided I was going to run for president. My motivation has always been the association, the people and the promise that she holds. I’ve seen people labour passionately for the association, sacrificing so much that the majority of IFUMSAites aren’t privy to, and that’s what inspired me. I knew what we could do as an association, the challenges we faced, and I wanted to contribute my quota in positioning the association for great things and putting sustainable structures in place that others can build on and improve.
MediVoice: Now, I see why your tenure was one of a kind. The motivation you had behind running the association is an excellent drive for success. Could you share your experience with us being the president of the association?
POTW: Wow, my experience, hmm, I must say that I got more than what I bargained for. It has been a mix of the mountain top and valley experience. I’ve had days when I wanted to resign, I’ve had days I wished I wasn’t the president, and I’ve had days I felt on top of the world. The office is not really a rewarding one, but I found fulfilment in what I did, and that’s sufficient for me. I find joy in knowing that I’ve been able to impact people one way or the other.
I should also say that I had help from many people, from members of the association, friends and family, members of the executive council, the SRB, past presidents, members of the alumni community, and the leadership of the faculty and college.
MediVoice: The saying “do not judge a book by the cover” is very true, I must say. I, for one, would never have thought you had a wish to resign at some point. Everything looked good from the sidelines. However, it’s also true that whatever has an advantage also has a disadvantage, so it’s quite understandable when you say you had mountain top and valley experiences. Moreso, judging from your statements, your position as president was more of a service, which is very much appreciated. Speaking of the valley experiences, what was the most significant challenge you had during your tenure?
POTW: The greatest challenge I had was funding.
Medivoice: This money sef, it always wants to spoil something. However, the association is still maintaining beauty (laughs). So let’s talk about the mountain top experience. What is the highlight of your tenure?
POTW: Not one, actually.
The driving school,
The completion of the synopsis project (Mental Health, Paediatrics and Obstetrics and Gynaecology. This project is the only thing I’m grateful to the lockdown for because it was time consuming),
The Gloryland basketball court project,
The Virtual Entrepreneurship and Economic Summit (The lockdown impeded what I had in mind for that summit, but I’m still delighted that we had it virtually for two days during the lockdown),
The revamped alumni relations (we’ve done so much in this regard. We’ve secured mentorship and scholarship for some of our members),
And the 35th Annual Health Week, which was a huge success.
There are other things we did, but I think this should suffice.
MediVoice: Omo, these are great projects that you pulled through. You did a very great job. Let’s now talk about the Almighty health week. What was your vision for the health week, and what birthed it?
READ HERE THE FULL TEXT OF KOLADE JAMES'S OPENING ADDRESS AT THE SWEARING-IN CEREMONY OF THE QUINTESSENTIAL TENURE
POTW: Honestly, if I had the final say as to whether the health week would hold or not after school reopened, we would not have had a Health Week because it looked like no activity or program would be allowed on campus because of Covid. I’m happy members of the executive council did not allow me to cancel it. Initially, we were working towards Climate change. Still, we changed that during the lockdown, and we started working towards Gender-Based Violence because we wanted a theme that can stimulate discussion and address prevailing issues.
MediVoice: So your executive members were the drive behind the health week. A big thank you to them. Concerning the topic, you all did a good job in picking the topic. It aroused so much participation from the general public. What were the challenges faced preparing for the health week, and how did you pull through?
POTW: One thing I did when we came into office in October 2019 was to constitute the Health Week Committee right from the start. I knew what I wanted for the health week, I had a massive picture in mind, and most importantly, I did not want to run into any debt. I’ve been on every health week organising committee right from my first year, and that allowed me to observe and learn first-hand how to organise the health week and to know the challenges. We tried to avoid the past pitfalls by commencing the planning for the health week at the beginning of the tenure, which I think helped in a way. It wasn’t like I wanted, thanks to Covid. However, we were able to improve on what was on ground.
Funding was still a challenge. We had to cut off some things because of the unavailability of funds, we’d have loved to feed people with proper food, but we needed to work within the confines of what we had. We also had the challenge of time because, as I said, the Health week was kind of cancelled already in my head, so we stopped working towards it until around the month of March, which gave us less than three months to work.
Medivoice: Covid really did us a strong thing sha. However, you were able to pull a good one. Yes, it might not have been what you had in mind, but it was one of a kind. The challenges were facing you, and you, too, faced them (giggles). So far, what were those things you wished you had achieved in your tenure?
POTW: Yes, we had plans for internship programmes which we were able to secure, but then, the country was locked down, and that plan went to dust, also the trade fair, the Honours day, and the Cardiopulmonary resuscitation training. We worked towards all of these but couldn’t set up because of time constraints.
MediVoice: Covid ehn deserves negative accolades for disrupting a lot of great plans. Let’s talk manifesto; based on your manifesto, did you have any unfulfilled promise? If yes, what went wrong?
POTW: Yes, the internship programme is one, although we were able to make up for that through the alumni mentorship programme. The CPR training is the only one I was unable to fulfil because of the challenges we had when we came back to campus after the lockdown. However, I should say that we’ve laid down the framework for it already. We have an arrangement with the Association of Resident Doctors OAUTHC for training our members.
Medivoice: In essence, you fulfilled your promises. Thank you for keeping to your words and not following the footstep of the typical Nigerian leader. Being a president must have been tasking. How did you combine academics with being the president et al.?
POTW: Combining academics with leadership in a very demanding association like IFUMSA is not entirely a walk in the park, coupled with the fact that this is the Final Year. I think I’ve been doing just fine, and to the best of my ability, I’ve managed my time well.
Medivoice: When you were elected, did you have any fears? If yes, how did you overcome it?
POTW: I was so scared when I was elected. I was scared of not meeting up to expectations. In overcoming my fears, I made sure I surrounded myself with people who could help me and prayed.
MediVoice: Expectations always have a way of creating fears, very understandable. Surround yourself with beautiful people. E get why oo, and most of all, prayer works every time. What’s the best thing that has happened to you so far as Beloved and as president of the association?
POTW: So far as Beloved, I’d say that finally coming to the end of Medical school and as president, I’d say that being able to set new standards for those coming after us.
MediVoice: I know right, finishing med school and not just med school, OAU med school is a great achievement on its own. Omo!! And yes, you have left a giant shoe for your successor to fill in. We, however, trust that he would. So, are you in a relationship? If no, are you open to one?
POTW: Yes, I’m in a relationship.
Medivoice: You are off the streets already, leaving campus with the full package, babe and degree. It’s plenty oo. When you ever get stressed, what or who is your go to?
POTW: Whenever I’m stressed, I find comfort in the people I love around me, and I play games.
MediVoice: Love is comforting. So, where do you see yourself in the next ten years?
POTW: 10 years, I see myself crushing every milestone I’ve set for myself.
MediVoice: That’s the spirit. Would you love to stay in Nigeria or japa?
POTW: As it stands today, I want to leave but not permanently.
MediVoice: Leaving is on everyone’s agenda, just difference in the time frame. Throughout your stay on campus, what’s your best and worst experience so far?
POTW: I think my best experience will be the 35th Health Week, and my worst experience will be in Clinical 1. I never want to relive that experience.
MediVoice: The health week is really the highlight of your tenure. As you’d be leaving us soon, what is your advice to junior colleagues concerning academics and extracurriculars?
POTW: Find a balance between academics and extracurricular activities. There are opportunities in IFUMSA, especially, so get involved and participate actively. And in all you do, try to add value to yourself.
MediVoice: Thank you some much for these golden words. In all I do, I’d add value to myself. Who would you love to give a shout out to?
POTW: To everyone who has made the tenure a success, to the entire executive council and especially my Vice President, Owoeye Ifeoluwa, you are nothing short of amazing.
MediVoice: Thanks so much for honouring this interview. I must say it was really worthwhile. I wish you all the best of life as you go into the outside world. Thanks once again.